Agartala, Oct 14: The Tripura government has ordered a probe into the death of migrant labourers from Jharkhand in two private buses due to suffocation and dehydration on the way to Agartala from Guwahati in two separate incidents last week.
With the death of two other Hindi-speaking labourers in an Agartala-bound bus due to suffocation on Oct 13, the toll has increased to seven during the past three days, while 120 others were shifted to different hospitals in the state, following respiratory problems.
All the victims were brought from Jharkhand by brick kiln owners for working in their kilns.
Police said here today that the labourers were being transported from Guwahati in overcrowded private buses by travel agents.
The issue of overloading in buses had also been discussed with the Assam government, while a senior officer from Jharkhand left for Tripura today.
Meanwhile, state Transport Minister Manik Dey told the sources that the Labour department was asked to conduct separate probes on whether travel agents abide by the law while transporting migrant labourers into the state.
''The Transport Commissioner has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit the report within a week. Our department will take stern action against the defaulters,'' Mr Dey said.
He said the migrant workers probably died due to suffocation as both the buses were carrying more than double the number of passengers they could accomodate.
Meanwhile, police arrested five persons, including the bus-drivers, in connection with the case and launched investigation.
Expressing concern over the incident, Mr Dey said the Tripura government had already requested the Assam government to arrest the accused travel agents, while authorities issued warnings to travel agencies and private vehicle owners, including three-wheelers.
Meanwhile, a state NGO - Arpan - which had submitted a detailed recommendation on traffic and transport management in the state two months back to Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, renewed its demands to implement them immediately.
The report mentioned incidents of overloading in public vehicles, absence of notified scheduled fare in the public vehicles, arbitrary collection of fare and misbehaviour with the passengers, besides toxic emissions released from the vehicles, use of loud horns, adulteration of fuel and encroachment of footpaths in the state, Arpan sources said.